Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Book Reviews

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much By Allison Hoover Bartlett The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is the true story of a thief, a detective, and a world of literary obsession.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

By Allison Hoover Bartlett

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is the true story of a thief, a detective, and a world of literary obsession. Allison Hoover Bartlett, a journalist, came across the story of the obsessive thief who bilked rare book collectors out of tens of thousands of dollars. Her investigation became "a fascinating journey into a strange, obsessive world where a love for books can sometimes become a fatal attraction."

To research this story, Bartlett spent a great deal of time with book collectors, attending the antique fairs where they have books valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars on display. She explains the book industry lingo as she goes along, casually sharing the things she learned herself.

Many of her interviews were with Ken Sanders, an honest rare book collector who makes his living trading literary antiques. He was the first to realize that the book thefts from sellers across the United States were performed by one man, who operated in a similar way each time.

Bartlett tells the story of how Sanders grew more frustrated with the book thief's operations until it became his personal mission to see the thief locked up for his crimes. Never a man to sit back passively when he and his fellow collectors were being defrauded, he attempted to organize stings to catch the thief, only to find the police did not believe "stealing books" was a major crime. They couldn't comprehend the fact that some books were worth six figures.

The author also managed to track down the thief - John Gilkey - as he sat in jail. Through her interviews, she unmasked the quiet man who had collectors across the country foaming at the mouth in rage and frustration. Gilkey had a twisted sense of what was owed to him. He loved rare, antique books and couldn't afford them. Perceiving it to be the fault of booksellers, he took revenge and helped himself to what he wanted.

Bartlett discovered the man never really held a job, except to work at Saks Fifth Avenue in order collect the credit card numbers of their wealthy clientele. He lived in high style off the fraudulent transactions he carefully put through their credit cards and travelled around America, using his fraudulent transactions to get his hands on the books he obsessively desired.

Not long before publication, Bartlett got word from the rare book world that the unreformed John Gilkey had finished his time and had already stolen a book from a Canadian dealer, but of course was not arrested. The true saga of the compulsive book thief continues to this day.

Find The Man Who Loved Books Too Much in the adult non-fiction collection at the Bob Harkins Branch.

Reviewed by Rachel Huston, Marketing & Development Assistant

The Yellow House

by Patricia Falvey

irst-time novelist Patricia Falvey has written a readable story about fiery Eileen O'Neill and her fractured Catholic family. The O'Neills live in the Protestant province of Ulster during the early years of the last century and become embroiled in the conflict that has troubled Ireland for centuries.

Eileen's cherished childhood home - the yellow house of the title - is taken from her the night her father is killed defending it from Republican rebels. It becomes her life's ambition to own the yellow house again and reunite her family.

Set against the historical backdrop of the Troubles, when the Catholic desire for a free Ireland led by Michael Collins entered its zenith, Eileen's story tells of her own sacrifices to the Cause.

Working in a linen mill by day and playing the fiddle by night, Eileen supports herself and her little brother long after her mother is taken to an asylum. But the beautiful Eileen soon finds herself snared in a bitter love triangle between her desire for the rebel soldier James, and her enduring love for Owen Sheridan, a Quaker, whose family owns the linen mill where Eileen works.

Like many first-time novels, The Yellow House has its clunky bits and a few logistical gaps. Why, for example, would the devoted Owen Sheridan who comes to own the yellow house (now whitewashed), choose to sell it without telling Eileen just when he reaches an understanding with her? Owen has known for years what the house means to Eileen, so why he would jeopardize his future with her by selling it begs for an explanation.

Still, despite the odd gaff, The Yellow House is an enjoyable read and demonstrates how the national crisis of Irish independence had repercussions on all individuals whether or not they participated in the Cause. It can be found at the Bob Harkins Branch in the adult fiction section.

Reviewed by Patricia Gibson, Inter-Library Loans Librarian at the Prince George Public Library